Monday, May 30, 2011
Fair is Fair.
I am one of those people who believe in rules. I think that they are good things, and most of them* should be followed. Rules work the best when they are followed by everyone.
First there are the big rules: aka. "laws". These ones are very important to follow, so that people don't get killed as they walk down the street, or have their worldly goods stolen/destroyed. Traffic regulations, don't steal people's stuff, don't kill people; all good. Breaking these rules lands you in jail.
Then there are the rules we follow that aren't quite law, but that we should follow for our personal safety. Look both ways, stand back from the edge in the subway station, wear a helmet when riding your bike. Breaking these rules might land you in the hospital.
Then there is another set of rules. The courtesy rules. The rules that make it more pleasant to live all squashed up together in cities the way we do. The rules that stand between us and the murdering, ransacking, looting chaos that comes from no one caring about the stranger next to them. Say excuse me, wait your turn, hold a door, don't cut in line, say please and thank you. Kindergartners know these rules. Breaking these rules makes you a big jerk.
I try my best not to be a jerk. I go out of my way to hold doors for people, offer some change if someone is short, I smile at cashiers and ask how they are. These are not hard things to do. These are little things that can make someone else's day easier. These are the kind of things that, done regularly, let you rest easy at night, knowing that you are a decent person.
Which brings me to the Fun Fair.
The day started off wonderfully! We got there early and beat the line ups, the kids were having fun and we got to see Beege's teacher fall in the dunk tank several times. (The big baby wore a wetsuit!)
I went in to check out the baskets and other items that were available in the silent auction. The basket I was interested in, "Family Fun", was still under my price cap, so I wrote in a bid, then went out to play with my family some more.
Beege got a temporary tattoo, Kee won some bubbles, we discovered that while Kee was super excited about the bouncy house, she was actually too afraid to go in one.
When the auction was almost over, I went back in to see how it was doing. I had the winning bid! 10 minutes to closing, and I had the highest bid! I have to admit that it did keep running through my head that I wasn't winning the basket, so much as the right to buy the basket. Still! I've never won an auction before!
I chatted with the teacher beside me as the time ran down. The woman in charge called out "The auction is now closed! No more bids! The auction is now closed!" She started making her way around with a highlighter to circle the winning bids. I smiled at the teacher and let him know I'd won my basket. Then out of the corner of my eye, I noticed something.
A woman nudged her son and nodded, and he knelt down to write on the clipboard for my basket. What the hell? I went over and said, smiling, "I'm sorry, but they've already said the auction is over." Her son looked up and she rolled her eyes, and nodded at him again. He kept writing. I said, no longer smiling, "The auction is over, please stop writing." She shrugged at me and turned away.
If this woman had started writing before they said the auction was over, I would have shrugged, kept my money in my pocket and walked away. Because really? It's not that important. However, since she had knowingly, blatantly, while looking at me, broken the rules, -- no, actually, she'd made her son do it! -- I was pissed. My eye started twitching.
I am not good in situations like these. As well as being a rule abider, I also tend to be a conflict avoider. But. Not only was this woman being a first class jerk herself, but she was passing her crappy, disrespectful attitude to her son!
When he finished writing, I picked up the clipboard. I went over to the woman in charge and explained what had happened. She apologised and told me that she was sorry it had happened. I told her that it was certainly not her fault and then offered to pay above the woman's bid as a resolution.
Conclusion? I will be picking my basket up from the office this afternoon. I ended up paying $10 more than I'd planned on but, as far as I'm concerned, totally worth it. Jerk.
*Then again, some are made to be broken; things like wine pairings and art techniques...